Garden Club Tours Clark Gardens

Garden Club at Clark Gardens (photo by Clark Gardens docent)

Erminja Maganja, Garden Club Publicity Chair

Each October, Garden Club members enjoy a field trip to a local botanical venue. This year, nearly 40 Garden Club members enjoyed a field trip to Clark Gardens, tucked away down a country road between Weatherford and Mineral Wells, Texas. It is the story, vision, and hard work of original owners Max and Billie Clark, who built their home atop this rugged hilltop in 1972. Our docent-guided walking tour allowed us to learn about and appreciate the evolution of the gardens.

The Clarks began by planting many trees, almost all as seedlings. The existing topsoil was enhanced with tons of compost and additional loam. They added shrubs, grasses, and layered in perennials. By trial and error, they learned which plants could survive the weather and rocky terrain and learned to incorporate Texas natives. They added features and specialty gardens over the years, including herbs, iris, and daylilies. With an eye to beauty and functionality, they dug and created lakes and ponds. Because there are no deep wells on the property, the grounds of the gardens were fashioned to capture and drain surface and runoff water into one of the many water gardens.

The Clarks never had a master plan. The garden evolved organically over time as ideas and opportunity arose. In 1999 the Max and Billie Clark Foundation was established, with the Clarks donating 143 acres, including the 50-acre gardens, which opened to the public the following year.

We happily explored the gardens by meandering its winding paths. Each curve offered a unique visual vignette, with arched bridges, splashing water features, and ponds complete with colorful ducks happy to oblige in a photo op. We also spotted a peacock, white swans, and great egrets, all preening and enjoying the fall day.

Clark Gardens is an oasis with visual interest year-round. On display for us were roses, chrysanthemums, ornamental grasses, fall crocus, salvias, fall aster, canna, hibiscus, and zinnia, along with a colorful woodland backdrop of native and specimen trees and shrubs. It was evident how much hard work had gone into creating this pastoral scene. And it was easy to bask in its serenity and the beauty of nature all around us!

We invite you to join and participate in our club events. Everyone is welcome, and we especially love RR newcomers! Annual dues are $10 per family. Our meetings are held monthly on the third Monday, September through May, at 10:30 a.m. at the RR clubhouse. Our next meeting will be Monday, Nov. 21, at 10:30 a.m. We hope to see you there! Please look for our reminders posted through the RR HOA weekly email bulletins.

For questions about the Garden Club, contact Erminja at [email protected] or 916-804-5551.